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Monday, 4th August 2003

The things we do

If I had to pick the nearest thing to actual torture which people voluntarily undertake, I think I'd go with The Marathon des Sables.

It's a 150-mile marathon that takes place over six consecutive days. In the Sahara Desert. Carrying all your own equipment (excepting water and a tent. But clothes, sleeping bag, food...).

Ben Hammersley's going to take part to raise money for a number of charitable organisations, to which I can only profess my complete awe and mention that it's the most incredible understatement to say, "Rather him than me."

Oh, and he'll be moblogging the whole thing. Of course.

Monday, 4th August 2003

Firebird rocks

You all know it. I'm guessing you've all been preached to on the subject.

Well, guess what? Now it's my turn.

Firstly, the basics. Why switch from Internet Explorer? Firebird is significantly faster than IE. Firebird can by default block nasty pop-ups, unlike IE. Firebird gives you tabbed browsing, which means you don't have to have your start bar cluttered up with dozens of open windows, such as you have with IE. Firebird lets you bookmark all your open tabs into a new folder, or open all bookmarks in a folder as new tabs; it doesn't make you open ten new windows and load up all the pages individually, like you have to with IE. Firebird lets you open links in the background with Ctrl-click or middle-click, rather than having a new window open on top of what you're reading, as with IE. Firebird has a right-click option to "Block images from this server" so that you don't have to endure banner ads, unlike if you browse with IE. Firebird has a scalable text feature so that you can increase or decrease the text even if the page's author is a Font Bitch and has the font size set in pixels [*cough cough*], meaning that you cannot resize the text in IE. Firebird makes it easy to browse without lifting your hands from the keyboard: Ctrl+L gets you the address bar, Ctrl+K gets you the built-in Google search bar (another thing that IE doesn't have by default), to select a link simply start typing the hyperlinked text and press Enter, eliminating all that tedious usage of the mouse which is inherent with IE.

These features are off the top of my head, and this is just with the basic, lean, just-downloaded version. We haven't even started on the Extensions yet.

Firebird's Extensions. These are really the killer argument as to why Firebird is superior to most other browsers, not just IE.

Extensions that I have installed at the moment are:

Alternate Stylesheet Switcher
Allows you to easily switch between alternate stylesheets, should any be available (see Meyerweb.com as an example) through a drop-down menu.
Mouse gestures
The reason why I was willing to switch from Opera, where I had got used to the mouse gestures. Admittedly, the only one that I actually use is to open a new tab, but I use it about fifty times a day. I'd use the Back and Forwards gestures as well, but I have nice Back and Forwards clicky buttons on the side of my mouse.
Tabbrowser Extensions
Lets you do many, many wonderful things, such as dragging the tab bar to the bottom of the window (which I would have done had this been installed immediately when I moved from Opera), reordering tabs by dragging and dropping, closing all tabs to the left/to the right/other than the tab you're on, undo Close tabs, set a maximum number of tabs per window (any further will open in a new Firebird window), etc.
This Window
Forces all links to open in the same window (new tab). Praised be the name of Ralph Churchill! (author of this extension). I despise with a great passion links that open in new windows, even though most of the time I middle-click on hyperlinks anyway.
Flash click to view
Flash animations are replaced with a button which you can click if you want to view the animation. Makes browsing much more peaceful.
Preferential
Gives you an awful lot more control over just about the entire browser. Perfect if you are like me and need to have things just the way you like them.
Web developer
This is very useful for web developers (I imagine), but I mostly use it for the View CSS button which will load all of the page's CSS (even multiple stylesheets) into a new tab.

If you need any further convincing, here's the evidence:

So, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, 6th August 2003

It must be the heat

It's too hot.

I'm a stereotypical Brit - when we get weather that would be described as 'fairly warm' by a large proportion of the world's population, I will immediately run inside the house, half-draw all the curtains to keep the sun out, try to find the coolest[1] clothes in my wardrobe and loll around complaining about the heat.

The London weather forecast for the next five days shows maximum temperatures of 34°C, 32°C, 32°C, 36°C and 33°C. Bleh. Saturday (the 36°C day) is the day I'm supposed to be having a trial drive to Farnborough so that I know how to get there (for new job) if/when the trains are cancelled. This adds up to almost two hours in the car on the hottest day of the year, and is consequently starting to sound like not the best idea.

I was going to write a longish, hopefully interesting post today but my brain's gone all kerplooie in the heat, so I'm having difficulty forming coherent sentences, let alone cogent arguments.

On the plus side, I've found that a few icecubes in a little plastic bag can provide a wonderful cooling-down service in the few minutes before they melt. Whereby you can then drink the few mouthfuls of ice-cold water. That last assuming, of course, that you can actually undo the knot in the neck of the bag before the water heats to room- or hand-temperature.

A note to heed, also. Don't do this over a keyboard, either the untying or the attempting to drink from a plastic bag.

As another plus, though, the water all down my front did cool me off briefly before it evaporated.

[1] - Interpret this word however you like.

Friday, 8th August 2003

Inspiring

Gee, someone else who likes Firebird. Someone who liked my own post on the subject to copy and paste it, changing a few words here and there.

Isn't it nice to be such a source of inspiration?

[Email sent. We'll see if anything happens.]

Update: Interestingly, the whole blog appears to have come down, coinciding with a three-word reply to my email. Here's a screenshot from earlier.

Update redux: It seems the blog was taken down because the author didn't want unknown people reading it - the blog was meant to be for friends and family only - and didn't like my linking to him. I've been assured that the Firebird post has been removed, though. In return I've removed my link to his page.

Monday, 11th August 2003

Rmdir afp

I've done something that I really should have done a long time ago, which is to take down my afp guide. It wasn't originally written for the general public and I never rewrote it adequately for this.

I wrote it a year ago for a friend and, to be honest, I linked to it in the bent back tulips sidebar last December simply because I wanted things to fill up the navigation. Forgive me, I was naïve.

To be more brutally honest, it's actually the guide that I'd have wanted when I started to read afp almost two years ago. But that's more to do with my slightly obsessive nature, and wanting to know as much 'background' as I could before I joined in. The guide's not actually that appropriate for other afp-newbies because (having looked over it recently for the first time in months, and wincing) I've seen that it's potentially off-putting for newbies with its implicit mandate that These are the Things that you Should Know before you so much as start reading it.

That's not what I wanted, and the bad thing is that bent back tulips is rather Google-friendly, and so I'm getting very high rankings for even generic usenet guide search terms - "usenet guide top posting moron" (drops down to #2 if you exclude "moron"), "killfile filter plonk" - and this despite the fact that no one has ever linked to the guide.

So it's gone now. With the right HTTP Error, no less.

Monday, 11th August 2003

Life and stuff

I've basically had a week that had me running around a lot and felt like it was packed full and hectic, but looking back on it, it seems like I've achieved nothing. And I'm mystified as to how all this nothing happened.

A bit of the mystery disappears when I explain that, amongst other things, I've been playing Discworld Noir - I finally got around to installing it after having bought it about two months ago. I bought it in my capacity as a Discworld fan rather than as a gamer - I am not a gamer. Apart from this and one other DW PC game, the last one I can remember playing seriously was EcoQuest: The Search For Cetus when I was about seven. Ooh, memories! That was fun. Anyway, I don't get a huge sense of achievement at solving all the puzzles, or working out how to progress in the game. It's a point-and-click, so essentially what I've been doing is wandering around, talking to everyone about everything, and when I get stuck I just pull up a walkthrough and move on. In my view this gets me maximum entertainment because nearly all the dialogue's brilliant, and also I don't end up banging my head against the monitor in frustration.

The other thing that took up a lot of my time last week was watching all of Angel Season 4 - the first half via a borrowed boxset and then via downloaded .avi files for the last eleven episodes. Having only ever seen Buffy or Angel in boxset form I'm used to watching a season in about three weeks, and so it was very traumatic when I ran out of videos and the season just stopped halfway through. Really :) I don't know how everyone else manages to watch them week-by-week; I'd find that absolutely excrutiating. I found it was bad enough only downloading two or three per day (~80MB each at a rate of 5-10KB/sec).

Now the odd thing is that I've finally caught up with the rest of the world on the Angel front. I'll be able to have conversations about it with people and not feel left-behind or continually having to avoid spoilers. This is weird. But I still haven't seen any of Buffy S7, so there's still that left.

On a related note, in a few days I should be the proud owner of Buffy S3 on DVD - less than half the RRP from the "as new" used items from Amazon. Yay :) I'm still annoyed for not buying up Angel S1 on DVD a few months ago when someone offered it for £20.

I did drive to Farnborough after all on Saturday and it was an unexpectedly enjoyable experience because of the lovely, lovely air-conditioning in our car. On the way back I had to turn the fan down because it was getting a bit chilly (the heat hit us in the face and engulfed us the second we stepped out of the car). It was lots of motorway navigation, which I haven't had to do before and so it involved lots of panicking about which lane I was supposed to be in, and so on.

Actually, yesterday was even hotter than Saturday and so I said to my parents (with a straight face) that I should probably try driving there and back on my own seeing as the route was fresh in my mind. Just to reinforce the route, you understand. Not just because I want to spend another two hours of the sweltering afternoon in the nice chilly air-con, oh no. I managed to get there all right, with the exception of the minor incident when I evidently forgot which lane of the M25 I had been in on Saturday and thus ended up in the lane for the M3 going to Sunbury rather than the M3 going to Southampton. Oops. Not that I minded having to go the extra five miles to Sunbury, get off, round the roundabout and back on the M3 heading in the right direction this time - another 5-10 minutes of driving time was well appreciated :)

As a consequence of all the above and the sluggish heat, and a few other things, I've read practically nothing in the last week, which I find annoying because it makes me feel really lazy and dissatisfied. I think it's Summer Holidays Syndrome kicking in - nothing to do and no real structure to your week. I'm not very self-disciplined, and so I end up not doing much. I'm almost looking forward to having a fulltime nine-to-five job (should the official contract ever actually arrive) starting in September.

That's almost - not that I'm not looking forward to it in the abstract sense, but I suspect that getting up at 06:15am every day will be a real shock to my system. Not to mention actually working all day and with only a few days' leave per year. Quite apart from the huge long school holidays, for my two years of Sixth Form I had an incredible amount of free time - last year I had the greatest number of study periods of anyone in the year - and now I've just had four months of study leave, exams and holiday.

Once I start my job, feel free to laugh at my despair, and say things like, "Welcome to the real world!"

Tuesday, 12th August 2003

Blogging survey

Yesterday in my inbox I received a polite little email from a UK PhD student asking me to participate in a blogging survey for his research. Never one to turn down a chance to click in lots of check boxes and radio buttons, I accordingly went along and filled in the questionnaire because I like doing them.

The author, Scott Nowson, wants as much data as possible, so have a look at the explanatory page for further info or to take part. As Scott said, "It's for science. It's for the future. It's for the kiddies. Is this helping?"

Thursday, 14th August 2003

Spread the word

The next blogmeet in London is fast approaching - it's on Saturday 23rd August.

If you're interested in going - the last one was fun - drop Aquarion an email for reasons of gauging numbers.

Thursday, 14th August 2003

Passed

My A-level results came this morning - A grades in Physics and Maths, B in Further Maths (oh, and an A in General Studies if you count that). Yay! I'm really happy with that, although my perfectionist instincts are now nagging me about the B. Not in any seriousness though; I didn't expect to get an A in Further Maths and I'm pleased with my results.

Readers with sharp eyes and good memories will recall that the entry requirements for my change in Uni course are A-A-B. However, I still don't know what's happening about the course because I've not yet heard back from Warwick's Comp Sci department.

I spent the day with a friend and we saw Pirates Of The Caribbean. I know I'm not the first person to tell you this but really, go and see it. Its universal appeal can be amply demonstrated by the simple fact that it's a fun film that I truly enjoyed. Generally speaking I don't quite get on with "fun films" - off the top of my head I can think of only about four or five that I've really liked - but POTC is excellent. 'Nuff said.

Friday, 15th August 2003

Sorted

Following my results, this morning I received an official letter from UCAS informing me that I have been accepted for the changed course, and would I please accept or decline the offer? Checking the course code, it turned out to be an offer for the three-year Comp Sci course as opposed to the four-year one that I had asked for.

Sigh. The rest of my day went like this:

  1. Phoned the Physics admissions tutor who I'd spoken to two weeks ago.
  2. Left message on his voicemail asking him to call me back.
  3. Phonecall was returned within ten minutes, I explained the situation and he said, "Ah, whoops, that was possibly my fault for not passing on the message properly." He gave me the name and number of the Comp Sci admissions tutor who I should talk to.
  4. I phoned the number, which rang and rang. A recorded message came on saying, "This is the message centre. Please key in the number of a mailbox or hold on."
  5. I held on.
  6. After half a minute of silence, another recorded message came on, saying, "This is the exchange. Please wait whilst your call is transferred."
  7. I waited.
  8. Another phone started ringing and ringing, and was eventually answered by a Real Live Person. I asked to speak to the relevant person, and she said, "Hold on, I'll just put you through."
  9. I held on, and a third (presumably) different phone started ringing. And ringing.
  10. After about three minutes of ringing it stopped, and a recorded message came on saying, "This is the message centre. Please key in the number of a mailbox or hold on."
  11. 'This is interesting,' I thought. I held on.
  12. After half a minute of silence, another recorded message came on, saying, "This is the exchange. Please wait whilst your call is transferred."
  13. I waited.
  14. Another phone started ringing, and was eventually answered by a different Real Live Person. I decided to play the odds, and again asked to speak to the admissions tutor.
  15. "Just hold on a moment, please," came the reply, and so I held on.
  16. Once again, a ringing phone. After a few minutes I heard (with mounting incredulity) a recorded message saying, "This is the message centre. Please key in the number of a mailbox or hold on."
  17. 'This is very impressive,' I thought, and held on.
  18. After half a minute of silence, another recorded message came on, saying, "This is the exchange. Please wait whilst your call is transferred."
  19. I waited.
  20. Eventually, a ringing phone was picked up by a third RLP. I was severely tempted to stay on for as long as I could and see whether it would just go around indefinitely, but this time when I asked for the admissions tutor, I was told, "He doesn't seem to be answering that number. Would you like me to give you the direct number?"
  21. I tried the direct number. The phone was answered by someone else, and I once again asked for the person I wanted to speak to.
  22. I was transferred, and the phone rang for five minutes solidly before the woman picked it up again, and said, "Who was it you wanted?"
  23. Mounting irritation. I reminded her of the name.
  24. "Oh, sorry, he's not in today. What did you want to talk to him about?"
  25. I briefly explained, and she said, "Have you tried our admissions hotline?" [The general number that a lot of students will have been calling today and yesterday in order to try and negotiate an offer on the basis of the grades they'd achieved.]
  26. I called the admissions hotline, and spent about five minutes explaining my situation to the woman who answered. She said she would put me through to the general Computer Science admissions number, and put me on hold for another five minutes.
  27. As a nice surprise, the next person I spoke to knew all about my problem. She asked for my UCAS application number, and went away from the phone for a couple of minutes to try and locate my file.
  28. When she came back she explained that things were rather hectic in the office, and it would take a little while to find my file. Could she phone me back in five or ten minutes?
  29. Three and a half hours later, the phone rang.
  30. I was told that the admissions tutor was quite agreeable to my being offered a place on the four-year course, and I would receive a confirmation letter from UCAS once they had been notified by the university.
  31. As an afterthought, the phone call ten minutes later explained that due to the fool-proof UCAS computer system, the university can't change my course again having already done it once, unless I accept the three-year course first. Then it can be changed, and I'll get another confirmation letter with an offer for the four-year course.

Barring further screwups, though, it's sorted now. Thank goodness for that.

Tuesday, 19th August 2003

Irritations

I am now officially Employed, having now finally received and signed my contract. Yay for that, but... 22 days' leave per year? No no no - I'm expecting half-terms, three weeks at Christmas and Easter and at least a couple of months in the summer, not to mention going home at 4pm...

Argh. Real-worldism kicking in. Not appreciated.

I went clothes-shopping today (a ritual which I seldom undertake due to the hassle - see below) to buy one or two skirts for work, the reasoning being that I'll need them in case of temperatures such as those we've had in the last month. I possess only two other skirts, neither of which are suitable since one is a long heavy winter-wear skirt and the other is denim, which I don't think is in the office dress code.

The reason I hate clothes-shopping was brought to my attention several times today; the simple fact that a lot of clothes don't fit me. Manufacturers don't seem to be able to grasp the fact that people's hips are wider than their waist - out of the eight or nine skirts that I tried on, I had to buy the only two that fitted. The rest just resulted in a gaping hole on the back of my waist since they were too loose.

This always happens when I try to buy trousers as well, and on the rare occasions where I find a pair that more or less fit, they're too long. (It's not my legs that are too short; all the trousers in the world are too long.) I can't remember buying a pair of trousers that didn't have to be shortened. I'm really looking forward to The Future™ when all clothes can be custom-made.

Two miraculous things happened when I shopping - firstly, I didn't buy any books despite entering no fewer than four bookshops (including Ottakars, which is the bookshop that generally has the most skill in lightening my wallet) and secondly, one of the shops I was in played Toploader's cover of Dancing In The Moonlight, and for the first time in three years I was able to listen to that song without an intense desire to run screaming from the room. This is a result of my having actively avoided that song for the last 2½ years due to the fact that when it came out, all radio stations suddenly decided to play it twenty times per day.

And I managed to listen to almost half the song without trying to get away from the evil noise! Don't get me wrong - it's still irritating. But in a damn-that-annoying-song's-on-again way rather than a if-I-hear-that-song-one-more-time-I'll-rip-my-ears-off way. Definite improvement.

Thursday, 21st August 2003

It must be a sign

As I was tidying my room yesterday (almost half-done, three large black binbags so far) I came across this forgotten photo from last year when I was visiting various universities:

School of Nursing and Midwifery - Deliveries at rear of building

Friday, 22nd August 2003

Ring ring

It is common knowledge among people who know me that I have the oldest mobile phone in the world - a Siemens C25, which is so crappy and decrepit that even the Siemens website denies all knowledge of its existence.

Well, not any more - I finally decided that my phone was too shameful to be taken out in public any more, so I ordered a new one, which arrived today. It is a Nokia 3410, and certainly sings and dances a lot more than the last phone. I've suddenly been dragged into the 21st century with regard to mobile phones, and am discovering all these wonderful things that everyone else has had for years - predictive text! (if I can work out how to use it.) Games! (the Siemens phone had none.) A clock! (in case it's too much effort to look at my wrist.) A currency converter! (oh, so useful...) A phone whose weight doesn't drag down your whole hand! Wap!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play with my new toy...

Sunday, 24th August 2003

Blogmet

Mark, Pete and KarenI arrived slightly late to yesterday's blogmeet, and was approaching Regent's Park when Kevin joined me. We walked into the park and then westwards until we spotted an island (as mentioned in the directions), noticed no one else hanging around aimlessly, and decided to sit down where we were until everyone else arrived. We chatted and tried to spot likely-looking geeks, and whenever we did we waved a FreeBSD book in their general direction to identify ourselves as geeks who were there for a blogmeet. Needless to say, we didn't catch any.

Pix and LoneCatAn hour or so and a couple of phone calls later, it transpired that we'd managed to walk obliviously past the first island which everyone else had been able to find quite easily. If you look on the map you'll see that we actually walked quite a long way beyond the clearly-marked meeting point to the second, rather larger, island.

Aquarion, Mark, Pete (with sausages) and KarenAquarion came to fetch us and so we packed everything up and moved to find LoneCat, Mark, Dave, Pix, Karen and Pete gathered on the south side of the stream just to the west of York Bridge, around the island. None could doubt the geekiness of the group - I think six out of nine of us were wearing black tops, and two of the three blankets brought were in fact Google blankets. A nice few hours were spent picnicking, Mars bars were provided and eaten as promised, trees were climbed, Dave was offered a banana by a member of the local constabulary and then told that trees were for looking at and not for climbing, there were bad puns aplenty, an impromptu twig-and-beer-can percussion session, and another competitve food event.

*argle* Mark, Kevin, Pete, Pix, Dave, Aquarion, LoneCat and KarenNot a recreation of the infamous pie-eating contest (there weren't enough pork pies left), but a 'How many cocktail sausages can Pete fit in his mouth at once?' The competition came from the fact that bets were placed as to the number, and Kevin ended up winning about £5 having guessed correctly that the answer was twelve.

Mark, Dave, Pix, Aquarion, Pete and KarenAlthough I did remember a digital camera this time, I forgot to take many photos with it. Consequently there are only a few (plus a 16-second clip of Pete stuffing cocktail sausages into his mouth... let it not be said that I don't document these things properly) and in a particularly brilliant feat of anti-photographic skills, the one photo that has everyone in it was taken when people were positioned such that you can only actually see two out of eight people in the photo. To make up for that I have a very shaky and relatively unfocused panoramic video which does actually allow you to see everyone (apart from me, but you can't have everything).

At six we decamped to the pub and were joined by Stuart before everyone moved upstairs and I left a while later. Once again I enjoyed myself, and it was good to put some more faces to names (not faeces to names, as I originally typed).

Update: Argh. The Quicktime .mov files that I uploaded don't appear to be working... I'll try and get this sorted :(
Update 2: My slightly limited resources for 'sorting out' have run out. They play fine on my computer, but when I try to open them after having uploaded them (which I have done several times) I get what is presumably a broken file image. Any suggestions?
Update 3: (01:50am... don't say I'm not dedicated) My hosting support guy tells me that he can play them fine once downloaded via FTP and saved to disk, and so can I, so they've gone back up again. Right-click and Save As or equivalent seems to work.

Monday, 25th August 2003

Now playing in my head

Yesterday I found a link to a stick man animation of the music video to Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice", and it's superb. A bonus is that it reminded me of the original music video which features Christopher Walken tapdancing and is quite possibly my favourite music video ever, although "Let Forever Be" by The Chemical Brothers would be a close second.

The title of "Cathy's favourite music video" isn't actually as impressive as it sounds because I barely ever see any - in fact, I have no idea how I originally saw the Weapon Of Choice video seeing as I'd stopped watching Top Of The Pops by then. I hadn't seen it in ages, so yesterday I downloaded it and watched it about a dozen times (and yes, of course I was geeky enough to play it simultaneously and side by side with the stick man one - what do you take me for?).

The drawback of this was that, while I don't mind the music it's not hugely to my taste, and of course I had it playing in my head for about ten hours yesterday. I tried playing some of the American Beauty soundtrack at it when I was trying to get to sleep, but it remained resolutely stuck there. And this morning, when I had the chance of peace and quiet in my head, what did I do? Do you think that (a) I stayed away from the music video, or (b) I headed straight for the URI in question to watch it again?

Honestly, I find that video so addictive, and I don't know why... I don't believe I'll ever get tired of watching it.

While I'm doing spurious linking, go and look at the Framley Examiner, the funniest and, in fact, only (as far as I know) spoof local newspaper. It's the small ads that always get me:

32" WIDESCREEN TV remote control. The biggest handset you'll ever need to own. 07999 369404

SPIRAL STAIRCASE for sale. Stairs, handrails and balusters missing. Might just be metal pole. £10 oh all right 01999 209452

A ROOM WITH A VIEW! A room without a view! These curtains could be yours! 01999 743871. Offers.

TRAMPOLINE. 3" diameter. For the keep-fit enthusiast with pinpoint accuracy. 25. 01999 300 988

Tuesday, 26th August 2003

Quote of the day

[BBC newswoman, on the Notting Hill Carnival]

"The theme of this year's carnival was Peace On The Streets; the police have made over one hundred arrests..."

Tuesday, 26th August 2003

New tenant

The blog: Lace Over Sand
The author: Missiedith
The URL: http://missiedith.bentbacktulips.co.uk/

The bent back tulips empire expands...

Thursday, 28th August 2003

Invisible quiz

A fun (and, at times, impossible) film quiz whereby you identify the film from a still photo - hang on, don't wander off yet, it's more interesting than that - where the people have been Photoshopped out of the shot.

The people are gone; the clothes remain. Some examples:

Mouseover for the answers (title attribute) - the original quiz, plus quite a few more, can be found at The Zero Edition. By the way, these select few are the really easy ones that even I knew the answers to. They do get more obscure...

Sunday, 31st August 2003

The monsters that lurk, and other snippets

When faced with a spider, what course of action do you take? Do you:

a) ignore it
b) run screaming, close the door on it
c) thwack it with heavy object
d) trap it carefully and deposit outside
e) back away gently and run to get nearest person to deal with it

Generally you can determine the relative size of the spider by my response - tiny ones get (a), slightly bigger ones get (c), anything a couple of centimetres across or bigger get (e). I have been known to use (b) for very large ones when there's no one around, in which case when someone is available I'll grab them and make them apply option (c) or (d).

The reason I mention this is that last weekend there was a large - about 3-inch diameter - spider in our front hall. I managed to use (b) because no one else was there and I was just about to go out. Apparently someone (c)'d it when they returned, which was good. A few days ago there was a similarly large spider in our lounge, which also was (c)'d.

The more worrying thing is that yet another one was found upstairs in the bathroom yesterday. Which leads to the disquieting thought that there may be a nest of them (do spiders have nests? A nest of spiders?) lurking Somewhere in the house. Urk. So now when I try to get to sleep I'll be imagining a cluster of large spiders creeping and making their way to me in the dark...


In October there's a Terry Pratchett signing in the Basingstoke branch of Ottakar's which I fully intend to go to, seeing as I couldn't go to any of his May signings. In order to find Ottakar's in Basingstoke I need a map, so I had a look at the specific store information, including a friendly link saying, "Store map".

"Goody," I thought, and clicked it, whereby a popup window opened with no image displaying, since no image existed at the URL it was pointing at. Now this was two weeks ago and it's still not been fixed, so I whizzed off an email to their "Internet team" telling them about it.

The reply mentioned that it had taken them a while to update the website since Ottakar's have recently taken over Hammicks, and consequently "not all of the new stores have maps". Surely then you'd take down the link to "Store map" rather than just take down the image and have a 404 error when the popup window is opened?

That aside, she did find a map for me. What she did was to go to Streetmap, bring up the relevant map, Print Screen, open Microsoft Word, paste the entire screenshot and then save the whole thing as a .doc and email it to me. Would it not have been easier simply to email me the URL (which I then had to type out from the screenshot so that I could see it at a decent size)?

Grr. These things annoy me.


My confirmation of the 4-year Comp Sci course at Warwick came yesterday, following two obligatory acceptances of the 3-year course that I was warned about when I phoned to straighten things out. Yay for that.

And I start work tomorrow, which may mean severely reduced blogging from now on. I'll try my best to still post several times a week, but we'll see.


And finally, something I was pointed towards a couple of days ago:

5 Secrets to a Perfect Relationship

  1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.
  2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.
  3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.
  4. It is important that a man is good in bed and loves being there with YOU.
  5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.

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